On any given Sunday, a battle looms on the horizon. Thanks to plenty of practice, the 6th AMW can meet the IGX/EORI head-on
by Randy Ray
It takes months of practice, gridiron determination and an iron will to propel a team from the off-season into the nationwide arena of professional football.
In much the same way, the 6th Air Mobility Wing spent the past several months preparing for it's big game - the upcoming Inspector General Inspection directed by Air Mobility Command. But, while there will be no bright lights or cheering fans, the 6th AMW nonetheless is preparing for the biggest challenge any nation can face: war..
Col. Brian T. Kelly, 6th AMW acting commander, said the wing has been preparing aggressively for its first Operational Readiness Inspection since the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, even while continuing it's high-tempo mission around the world.
"The players have done some fairly intensive training," he said. "We've done a couple of deployment exercises, several field training exercises and two very intensive enemy attack exercises with more than 100 people directly involved with the IGX."
There also have been two large planning sessions. One at the deployment site, to let leadership get an idea of the obstacles they will face logistically, and another here at MacDill since the 6th AMW will be the lead wing for the IGX/EORI.
Colonel Kelly said the upcoming inspection, under the direction of Brig. Gen. Mark R.
Zamzow, AMC inspector general, is a new entity. The game plan is to bring together 26 different wings from around the country, including the 60th AMW from Travis AFB, Calif., the 171st ARW from Pittsburgh, Pa., the 190th ARW from Forbes Field, Kan., and many other mobility wings. They will deploy to Alpena, Mich., to operate under the threat of ground and missile attacks.
While most of the focus in the Global War on Terrorism has been focused on Southwest Asia, another threat has been steadily advancing.
"Korea has a lot of capabilities close to the border; short range to medium range missiles, huge amounts of artillery, special operations threats and chemical and biological weapons capability," said Colonel Kelly.
With a team of approximately 900 people heading onto the playing field in Michigan, there will be numerous opportunities for General Zamzow's team of inspectors to complicate things. Colonel Kelly said he expects a wide array of inputs from multiple chemical attacks, to inspectors posing as local media trying to get the scoop on the "war." He has also prepared for attacks from small groups of "special operators" sabotaging operations and urban warfare similar to the insurgent attacks seen in Iraq.
The challenges the Air Force continues to face in Southwest Asia are among the driving forces behind the inspection.
"It forces us to be more ready for action, including the possibility of chemical and biological weapons," elaborated Colonel Kelly. "We're at war and we see more of our people in dangerous circumstances. The Air Force has not been pushed this far forward and needed in this proximity to the enemy in a long time."
To keep things in perspective, Colonel Kelly said because there are so many diverse people from a nationwide team involved in operations ranging from aircraft maintenance to security forces, it is possible for some aspects of the team not to measure up to the high standards set by General Zamzow.
"If anybody doesn't measure up they get an unsatisfactory grade and they will have to clear that grade," said Colonel Kelly. "The final determination for how they clear that grade is at the IG's discretion."
Colonel Kelly's positive attitude has been a driving force in the months of preparation the wing has endured.
"The key people leading this team feel we've gotten everyone the training they need without overdoing it. We plan to be peaking when we are at the IGX," he said, giving credit to his leadership team of Lt. Col. Bobby Fowler, 6th Operations Group deputy commander and Lt. Col. Philip Greco, 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. He also gave plenty of credit to Wing Plans, Civil Engineer Readiness experts and many others.
The playing field might not be on big screen TVs or seen by sports fans nationwide, and the players won't get paid millions or have cheerleaders on the sidelines, but the team's determination to perform at the highest level is evident and the payoff will be a fighting force prepared to face any conflict, at any time, anywhere in the world.